Sports

Sharapova, Makarova cruise into Aussie semis

Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Maria Sharapova dominated Eugenie Bouchard to reach her third Australian Open semifinal in four years, while Ekaterina Makarova had a similarly easy time ousting third-seeded Simona Halep during Tuesday's quarterfinal action at the year's first Grand Slam event.

The second-seeded former world No. 1 Sharapova, the 2008 Aussie champ and a two-time runner-up, needed just 77 minutes to down the seventh-seeded 2014 Wimbledon finalist Bouchard by a 6-3, 6-2 score.

"I felt pretty good from the start," said Sharapova. "I thought I had a really good start. I kept my focus throughout the whole match. I didn't feel that I had too many letdowns, which is important. When I did have a few slips I was able to come out with great first serves or really powerful returns. But overall really happy with the way the match went."

Makarova, meanwhile, landed in her second career Grand slam semi by overpowering a mistake-prone Halep, the world's third-ranked player and a finalist at last year's French Open. The Romanian star committed 31 unforced errors and double-faulted four times in dropping a 6-4, 6-0 decision to the 10th-seeded Russian left-hander.

"I had a bad day," said Halep. "But she played well and everything was in for her. I'm really sad a little bit now that I could not play my tennis, my game, but that's tennis and I have to look forward to the next tournament."

Makarova, meanwhile, will play in her second straight Grand Slam semifinal. She dropped a 6-1, 6-3 decision to Serena Williams in last year's U.S. Open semis.

"Maybe I've brought all the atmosphere and memories here from New York," said Makarova. "I'm really enjoying myself. It's a really nice time for me."

Sharapova, who will face Makarova in Thursday's semifinals, hasn't dropped a set since escaping with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 win over qualifier Alexandra Panova in the second round.

The five-time Grand Slam champion credited a phone call from her father for helping turn things around.

"I don't want to face that phone call with my father too many times during a tournament," she said. "He told me that I was working much harder than I had to. If I was maybe a little bit smarter, did a few things maybe a little bit differently, maybe it could have been easier."

It's been pretty easy for Sharapova against her fellow Russian Makarova.

Makarova hasn't beaten Sharapova in five all-time meetings, dropping the last four in straight sets. The two met twice previously at the Australian Open, with Sharapova taking quarterfinal matchups in 2012 and 2013.

"Well, I've never beaten her, so it will be tough," said Makarova about again facing Sharapova. "Definitely she's a great fighter. Like here in the second round, she almost lost, but she turned (it) around."

The Williams sisters will each take part in Wednesday's two quarterfinal matches, with top-seeded Serena continuing her quest for a sixth career title in Melbourne by taking on No. 11 seed and last year's Aussie runner-up Dominika Cibulkova. The 18th-seeded former top-ranked star Venus will square off against 19-year-old fellow American Madison Keys.

Serena is 4-0 lifetime against Cibulkova, while Venus is 1-0 versus her compatriot Keys.

The reigning U.S. Open champion Serena owns 18 Grand Slam singles titles, including five here in Melbourne.

Venus, a seven-time major champion and 2003 Aussie runner-up to Serena, is a perfect 9-0 this year, including a title in Auckland three weeks ago.

For the first time since 2003, three Americans are into the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam.